14s at Beer
Among the 25 competitors were sailing legends like Ian Pinnell teamed up with Sam Gardiner and Mark Upton-Brown/Ian Mitchell formerly of 505 fame. Rob Greenhalgh/Dan Johnson currently ranked no.1 in the World in 18 foot skiffs also made the trip to Beer.
Elsewhere on the beach were also many I14 heroes like Paul Vine/Dave Dobrijevic, winner of the POW Race and Europeans in 2002, multiple POW winner Andy Fitzgerald sailing with Simon Marks and Roddy Bridge former I14 World Champion with Douglas Pattison.
Saturday’s breeze was a stiff 20 kts from the south with confused big waves in classic Beer style.
Race 1 was a tight battle among the top 4 boats until Greenhalgh/Johnson (sailing the works RMW Morrison 11) pulled ahead into what looked like an unassailable lead. On the last gybe, however, they capsized allowing Upton Brown/Mitchell into first position and Victor Brellisford and Damian Ash briefly into second place, before they too went for a quick dip - letting Tony Dencher and Andy Hethingerton through into second.
Race 2 followed a similar pattern, although Greenhalgh/Johnson were more careful this time and won from Upton Brown with Brellisford/Ash third.
Race 3 was tight battle all the way round the course. Brellisford/Ash led the fleet at the second windward mark, but with a lap to go, a capsize cost them the lead to Greenhalgh/Johnson. The steady-eddie team of Chris Turner and Peter Bagwell were next to cruise past with a cheery wave into second place.
Sunday dawned beautifully sunny – and windy again with a mass of breaking waves scudding across the bay. In fact there was more white water than blue – it was clearly going to be full on. Some of the fleet didn’t look up to the task after a long Saturday night in the Dolphin in Beer High Street.
Race 4 got underway and almost immediately the breeze began to ease. First out of the blocks were the alert team of Greenhalgh/Johnson who were clearly the most bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Vine/Dobrijevic were hot on their heels showing some of last year’s pace. Team Old Sea Dog, Bridge/Pattison finally showed their mettle and pulled off a third position. At the end of Race 4, the breeze died away completely and the fleet bobbed about at sea for an hour waiting for wind.
Race 5 took place in a light 5-8 kts and sloppy sea and saw Greenhalgh/Johnson, now confident of a win, pulling away from the fleet with Ian Pinnell and Sam Gardiner showing some hot pace in second and Vine/Dobrijevic in third.
Race 6 got away cleanly, but by the windward mark the breeze died again completely. Mysterious events at the windward mark saw four boats emerge from the top of the beat Andy Partington with Ben Vernieres way out in front, Vine/Dobrijevic in second and Pinnell/Gardiner in third.
The final race set off into a better breeze and Partington/Vernieres showed stunning pace again to lead all the way round, Greenhalgh/Johnson second and Pinnell/Gardiner third.
1 Greenhalgh/Johnson GBR1482, RMW Marine, Morrison 11
2 Brellisford/Ash GBR1483, Looks Like Smells Like, Bieker 4
3 Upton Brown/Mitchell GBR1455, Sea Mist of HISC, Morrison 10
4 Turner/Bagwell CAN580, Ranger, Bieker 3
5 Fitzgerald/Marks GBR1488, Bieker 4